This past week I attended Dallas Tech Fest, one of the local conferences in Texas that focuses on multiple aspects of software development.
The conference was held at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a really eclectic movie theater that served as a great venue. There were 15 presentations throughout the day presented by Improving, ThoughtWorks and Veredus. Topics ranged from lesson’s learned to coding tips and tricks. However, one in particular stood out to me the most.
The Importance of Technical & Non Technical Roles
I knew that Allison Pollards presentation, Technical Excellence Doesn’t Just Happen, would be a great choice when the entire theater filled up 20 minutes before the scheduled start time… at lunch.
Pollard introduced herself as an Agile Coach/Consultant, and stressed the fact that she is not a developer. This struck a chord with me, because though I have been working in the tech industry for most of my career, I don’t actually write code. I am not a developer, I am a marketer- it’s my job to make sure that the business priorities are supported by whatever functionality is introduced.
Pollard most recently had worked as a consultant for a company that had talented developers, but were still having difficulty creating quality code and hitting their deadlines. She found that the root of the problem was that it doesn’t just take technically skilled developers to attain success. It takes support from the entire team, both technical and non-technical roles.
For example, imagine a scenario where a team needs to fix a known bug. The developers present two options to the product manager. They can either take 2 sprints to implement a permanent solve over 3 weeks, or they can rush a quick fix in 2 days, forever burdening themselves with fragile code. The product manager only hears that they’ll have the fix in 2 days – they’re not thinking about the impact to future deployments.In this case, both parties should have taken more responsibility when deciding on a solution.
- The developers (technical role) shouldn’t have presented an option they couldn’t live with.
- The product manager (non-technical role) should have been more concerned about the long-term viability of the code base.
This scenario is one that I’ve encountered hundreds of times. Though I have not been the one writing the code, I have been the one ensuring requirements are accurate and reflect brand priorities. I have spent hundreds of hours completing user acceptance testing, making sure that the experience is easy and positive for the consumer. I’ve battled with developers who can code in more languages than I even knew existed, and I’ve both won and lost those arguments. However, seeing Allison Pollard’s presentation last week really emphasized how I’ve felt about the development process all along.
It’s one of the things that I can say is truly special about working here at FrogSlayer. We all understand just how much work it really takes to launch a quality software product. It involves a 110% effort from everyone on the team – developers, software architects, QA, marketing and most importantly, the client. Everyone works together to not only defend their priorities, but to also understand and support the priorities of the other contributors as well. The end result of a sustainable, quality software product is a testament to that teamwork.
Were you also at Dallas Tech Fest this year? Are there any other issues between technical and non-technical roles that you’ve encountered in your organization? Any ways you’ve found to better support the process together? Please leave a comment below, we’d love to hear about them.